What To Wear to a Funeral in the Summer? Adults and Kids

An article published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine brought up an interesting point: do you still wear black to a funeral if the memorial is being streamed over Zoom? The question does more than offer a conundrum for the post-COVID age; it helps to highlight the fact that the traditional rites of funerals have changed. The usual rules don’t always apply. 

When attending a funeral in the summer, you have to find a balance between respectful and comfortable. Wearing lighter fabrics can mean more casual attire. As our funeral rites have shifted, the options available for these events have extended. 

This article will go over how adults and kids can dress for a summer funeral. We’ll cover the do’s and don’ts and provide some examples of heat-friendly mourning clothes. 

Proper Attire for a Summer Funeral

For indoor funerals, any standard outfit that covers most of the body is usually fine. Dark colors are still the norm, but most venues will have air conditioning. Outdoor funerals or graveside services are the more pressing issue, where comfort has to be considered. 

Children and the elderly are more likely to suffer in hot conditions. Since so many funerals will do a dual in-venue and graveside service, the dress code should take some things into account: 

Temperature and Weather

One of the most significant factors in choosing your clothes for a funeral in the summer is temperature and weather. The hotter the day, the more critical it’ll be to choose something light enough to stand in for an extended period while outdoors. 

If you’re concerned, you can always contact the funeral director to ask them how long you’ll be expected to stay outside. You can also double-check that there’ll be air conditioning indoors. But if this isn’t an option, choose an outfit with a lighter fabric. Forgo unnecessary accessories like tights, especially for children who’ll be less tolerant of discomfort. 

Layers or Adjustable Clothes

An easy way to get around unknown conditions is to wear layers that can be removed during the service. Commonly, people will dress light for a summer funeral, only to get indoors for the remainder of the service and find themselves cold thanks to over-air-conditioned rooms. Having a light jacket that you can put on and take off as needed is helpful. 

Adjustable clothing is another option. It includes shirts that you can unbutton as needed. Very young children can rely on onesies under their other clothes to be cooled down if needed during the service. No one will worry about a child being underdressed; the important thing is that they’re comfortable enough to make it through to the end. 

Sleeveless Options

In the past, the idea of sleeveless clothing at a funeral was a faux pas. As the restrictions on apparel have diminished over the years, so has the general attitude about showing skin at a funeral. Sleeveless blouses and dresses are perfectly acceptable options at even more formal mortuaries. 

Unfortunately, this one is a harder sell for men. There aren’t semi-formal or business casual options for gentlemen, though rolled sleeves or short-sleeved button-ups are appropriate. A t-shirt is acceptable if it’s a solid color, in good condition, and paired with an option such as slacks. It’s all about the presentation. 

Appropriate Lengths or Skin Reveals

In the same vein as revealed arms, dresses that cut off at or just above the knee are also acceptable. However, you’ll want to keep cleavage to a minimum, as it can be considered a little too casual for mourning. Of course, it will depend on the deceased and the choices of their loved ones. Some funerals may not be so conservative. 

Shorts are usually considered a no-no, as are short skirts. Depending on the top selected for the occasion, a nice pair of capris may be worn. In that case, a formal or business casual blouse should be chosen to give an overall more put-together look. 

Accessories To Lessen Heat

One of the best ways to stay comfortable during a summer funeral is to bring accessories that reduce the heat. Some examples are a large hat that blocks the sun such as the SK Hat Wide Brim Hat (available on Amazon.com), a portable electric or manual church fan, or a small mister that gives a small burst of water. 

It’s important that any hat that you choose is suitable for a funeral. I highly recommend reading this article that’ll help you select the appropriate hat.

A parasol or umbrella can also help avoid sunlight. But keep in mind that they can block others’ view of the service, so you should stand in the back if you bring one of these. It should also be small enough only to cover yourself if you’re alone or large enough to hold multiple people if you intend to keep your children under it. This option is better than everyone having their own, and so taking more space. 

Do Men Need To Wear Ties and Jackets to Summer Funerals?

Men don’t have to wear ties and jackets to summer funerals if they don’t wish to. While once it would’ve been disrespectful not to dress formally, that’s no longer the case. No one wants a guest to get heatstroke. 

Dressing for a summer funeral as a man might seem complicated because of a lack of options. Women have sundresses, for instance, or certain types of blouses, skirts, or pants that can appeal more or less formally based on how they wear them. What similar options do men have? 

Quite a lot, actually. A pair of simple slacks and a button-up shirt are preferable, including those with short sleeves. Long-sleeved button-ups can be worn, the sleeves rolled up, and the top buttons undone. Even a t-shirt is fine if it’s a solid color shirt in good condition, though it might be a bit too casual for some. 

Adding some accessories can make a big difference in your outfit, as well. A pair of nice dress shoes can create a much more polished look, so can a nice watch, or even how you do your hair. The point is to look like you made an effort, not coming in for a job interview. 

If you prefer to wear a tie, it can always be paired with a button-up shirt and no jacket. 

Do I Have To Wear Black to a Summer Funeral?

Did you know that wearing colors like saffron, yellow and green at Hindu funerals are considered a sign of respect for the dead? In China, black is acceptable, but so is white, and if the deceased was over 80, you could wear pink or red to celebrate their long and fruitful life. In Iran, it isn’t uncommon to wear blue

While it’s customary to wear black to a funeral in Western countries, in America, it’s no longer considered a necessity. However, wearing bright colors is usually avoided. Grey, dark blue, dark green, deep reds, or purples are accepted in almost all circumstances. 

At the same time, more often, we see funerals that are considered a “celebration of life,” in which case bright colors could even be encouraged. That’s the case especially during the summer, when people are more likely to throw parties on behalf of the dead. Like all apparel choices, it’ll depend on what’s requested on the invitation. 

The funeral director or mortuary assistant should have more details on the dress code. You can always call and ask for clarification without bothering the family members in mourning. 

young girl visiting a grave with colored flowers at the cemetery

A Note About Casual Clothing at Funerals

We are seeing more people choosing “celebration of life” style funerals than ever before. These are parties held in honor of the deceased that give their loved ones the chance to remember the good times and are far less formal than traditional funerals. 

In most cases, casual or elaborate, brightly colored outfits are encouraged to banish the dreary tone that most services can hold. If you’ll be attending one of these celebration ceremonies, it’ll say so on the invitation. 

One instance that shows how varied some of these celebrations can be was a summer funeral of a young man who used fashion and cosplaying as a hobby. He had planned his own funeral ahead of his death and chose to have a party that invited everyone to dress in any way they liked. The condition was that all clothing was over the top, a costume, or an alternative dress style. 

Guests arrived in ballgowns, dressed as 1960 style hippies, complete Gothic aesthetic, and more. His brother dressed as a pirate. One attendant came in a costume of Leeloo from ‘The Fifth Element, and his best friend went as a vampire. The deceased’s own clothing was hung around the venue, showing off his favorites as well as pictures of him in each. This case isn’t as uncommon as it might seem. 

While you probably won’t be attending a funeral where revealing costumes are encouraged, the traditions of funeral clothing have changed enough to assume a light summer outfit won’t be considered an insult to the family or departed. 

Some Examples of Attire for Summer Funerals

While you can find many options for your summer funeral, these suggestions are some basic examples for men, women, and children. You can use this as a guide to begin building your outfit. Keep in mind that it’s still using the usual traditions as a blueprint for an adapted outfit suitable for higher heat. 

For Adult Women

This light tunic dress (available on Amazon) for women uses a loose-fitting cut and overlapping materials for a classy, flowy look that’s still nice and cool. The length is shorter than usual but not revealing. The cutouts give it some texture and an attractive look that would allow you to wear it to other events in the future. 

This guide will help you wear make-up to a funeral in a respectable and appropriate manner.

An alternative is this simple, HUHOT Skater Dress (available on Amazon.com) that cuts off at the knee. It’s solid black, sleek and casual. But it isn’t so casual that it’ll turn any heads. The polyester and spandex mix make it stretchy enough to fit different body types without being too tight, which can be constricting in heat. It comes in many colors, including navy blue and floral patterns that would still be appropriate for even more conservative funerals. 

For Adult Men

Men can wear any pair of fitted slacks such as the Haggar Slacks (available on Amazon.com), which will be breathable in the summer weather. The primary creases pressed into the front give it a more professional air, and it comes in different tones from black to grey or beige. Any would work for a funeral, though darker shades are usually preferred and better match most tops and accessories. 

The LA LEELA Button-Down Shirt might seem like an unusual choice because it’s a Hawaiian-style button-up. As you can see, the solid color with no pocket pattern makes it better for the event. It comes in black, making it the obvious option, but dark blue or even purple would also be fine. 

If you pair it with nice loafers or dress shoes, taking extra care with your hair and hygiene, it would be perfect for a hot graveside service. 

For Kids

Children can usually get away with anything as far as clothing goes. Dressing them nicely is easy, such as with this sleeveless black dress (available on Amazon.com) for young girls. The material is light and will help keep your daughter cool. The pleated skirt folds offer some complexity to an otherwise standard dress design. 

Boys can wear the HeMarIsle Romper (available on Amazon.com) styled like a suit. The fabric will keep their body temperature down, and the overall look is adorable. The clasps across the bottom make diaper changes easy, a major concern for most parents.


There are no hard and fast rules on funeral attire in today’s age. While some traditions still exist, you can take more liberties depending on the wishes of the deceased’s loved ones. Summer funerals require you to keep comfort and safety in mind. Otherwise, you’re free to wear anything.


Was this post helpful?

Useful? Save information for later by printing or sharing.

Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

Recent Posts

Table of Contents